Category Archives: Spring Fling

Say Yes to the Dress. Maybe.

www.melindawentzel.comI have not-so-fond memories of my high school prom, most of which stem from having worn a dress that felt as if it were lined with burlap. It was a white, floor-length eyelet gown, cinched unmercifully at the waist, making the thought of dancing almost unbearable. Never mind walking, talking and breathing. However, not going to the dance was out of the question. I went because all my friends would be there. I went because the hype leading up to the event was intoxicating. I went because prom night was a rite of passage—apparently, so was wearing obscenely uncomfortable shoes and stuffing myself in a dress that was two sizes too small.

Cutoffs and Converse sneakers were more my speed. If only I could have convinced the Prom Committee to allow everyone to dress as if they were going to a backyard barbecue, not a stodgy affair where herds of adolescents would spend much of the evening shuffling around in stiff formalwear, feeling both awkward and insecure. Or maybe that was just me.

The only thing less enjoyable than the prom itself was the gown-shopping marathon my mom and I endured beforehand, my angst superseded only by my negativity. I remember thinking I would never find the perfect dress, because it didn’t exist. Designers, it seemed, didn’t have flat-chested prom-goers in mind when they created styles for the masses. Instead, the racks were spilling over with plunging necklines and slinky, strapless numbers I couldn’t wear on a bet—not without hours of alterations and/or divine intervention. Lo and behold, we stumbled upon a gown that would work. Besides, I reasoned, I only had to endure it for a few hours. Then I could ditch it for jeans and a t-shirt—my garb of choice. Not surprisingly, that’s exactly what I did.

So when my youngest daughter announced that she would need a prom dress this year I was speechless, my mind swimming with enough pessimism for six people. But, I reminded myself, she is a different kind of creature—a fun-loving free spirit, one who thrives on adventure and feels comfortable in her own skin, worlds away from me. That much I know.

That said, virtually everything about our shopping excursion was unlike my own of decades ago. For starters, we found heels long before we looked for a gown and she systematically broke them in over a period of weeks. On the day we finally set out to find a dress, my daughter brought the aforementioned shoes along so she could put them on to see how they looked with each gown she tried. Brilliant.

We then proceeded to haul massive amounts of silky, sequined whateverness into the dressing room, banking on the premise that more was better. Itchy tags and tangled hangers be damned. Despite the fact that we both fell in love with the very first gown (in which she looked stunning), she soldiered on—just in case she would discover something even more irresistible. There were black ones and red ones. Dresses without straps. Dresses without backs. Each one distinctively elegant. Each one with its own special charm, making the decision-making process fairly impossible.

After what seemed like forever, we were able to narrow it down to two favorites. And when I say “we” I mean my daughter and myself, an exceedingly helpful sales woman, a handful of patrons who happened to be in the vicinity and hordes of my daughter’s friends who offered instantaneous feedback via social media. Who knew that shopping for a prom dress would necessitate input from one’s Snapchat tribe, which apparently was present in the dressing room? I kid you not.

Needless to say, it’s a different world than it was some 30 odd years ago. Stranger still, we actually had fun searching for the perfect dress—so much fun, that we bought BOTH of her favorites. And because the gods were smiling, they were remarkably affordable, surprisingly comfortable and oh-so-beautiful.

Already it’s looking as if she won’t need decades of prom-related therapy.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live, gearing up for Prom Night. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2016 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "N" is for Nostalgia, Growing Pains, In the Trenches of Parentville, Spring Fling

The Swan Song of School

www.melindawentzel.comI have a love-hate relationship with the end of my children’s school year (i.e. that inimitable wedge of time that is at once delicious and detestable—conveniently sandwiched between the intensity of academics and the celebrated death of structure). To most, it would seem like a fairly simple dichotomy: either one richly embraces said collection of days during the frenzied months of April, May and a goodly portion of June or, conversely, harbors maniacal thoughts of lighting that portion of the calendar on fire. But for me, it has always been a more complex matter as I am torn between the two extremes.

Indeed, part of me completely loathes the end-of-school-year insanity—especially the frenetic pace at which we parents must perform. We dutifully ferry our charges hither and yon without complaint, cram our schedules with more events than it is humanly possible to attend and go above and beyond to ensure that the infinitely numbered details of our children’s lives are perfectly coordinated and expertly managed, that is until we are lulled into the lair of summer, when and where we can finally breathe. Then again, let us not forget the onslaught of camp registration deadlines that loom large, making us slightly unnerved over the uncertain nature of our so-called master plan for the coming months.

By the same token, another part of me is entirely enraptured by this particular chapter of parenthood. That said, there is a certain zeal with which my progenies now arise to greet the day on school mornings. And the greatly anticipated demise of the Homework Era alone is enough to make all concerned parties slightly euphoric. What’s more, and against all logic and understanding, the obscene magnitude of activities slated to take place in the closing months—to include field trips and outdoor events, career days and concerts, award ceremonies and parties galore—somehow fill me with glee. Never mind the delirium-infused state my brood enjoys as a result, making it difficult for anyone and everyone in this household to get a good night’s sleep prior to that which is deemed A BIG DAY. Lord knows we’ve experienced many such days (and sleepless nights) since the advent of spring and its characteristic ratcheting of school-sponsored events. Oy.

But the Land of Seventh Grade has been a decidedly good place, and I sometimes lament the fact that Thing One and Thing Two will progress to the shores of eighth grade next fall, ostensibly to bigger and better things. Besides, I’ve grown accustomed to the routine within which my family has functioned since the early days of September. More specifically, everyone beneath this roof knows his or her role and what is expected as it relates to the business of school and learning in general. Next year, I fear, will be different and disturbingly unfamiliar, with a learning curve we have yet to even imagine.

Needless to say, there is great comfort in sameness—a predictable rhythm by which our days have been governed so very well for so very long. Part of me hates to see that disappear. Stranger still, I suspect that the laze and haze of summer will somehow deaden my children’s collective passion for learning, erasing much of the progress we’ve made thus far and undermining the efforts of all who’ve had a hand in cultivating a love of books, an appreciation of music and art as well as a solid sense of self.

And yet, the summer holds a wealth of promise—as it always does. And it will have its own rhythm and perhaps a different brand of enlightenment wrapped with the merest suggestion of routine—one with rounded edges and soft spots to land come July and August. But for now, my thoughts rest on the few days that remain on the school calendar—a swan song of sorts.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (both loving and hating the end of school). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under School Schmool, Spring Fling, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

Footloose and Fancy-free

Here we are—a mere five weeks into spring—and already it’s time. Time to fire up the grill and dust off the mower. To haul out the picnic table and spruce up the lawn chairs. To fish for golf clubs and ball gloves and those glorious little tubs of sidewalk chalk without which I could not effectively parent. Time to paw through our summertime wardrobe for the Bermudas we pray aren’t too snug and to put away the parka—for good. We’re tired of the wretched thing anyway.

What’s more, it’s finally time to bid farewell to those insufferable snow shovels and subzero temperatures. Time to embrace the sun’s warmth and to feast our eyes upon all-that-is-green-and-growing. We deserve it. Winter’s been long and unforgiving, and the ice it bore assuredly played no favorites.

Indeed, it is time.

Even without the aforementioned harbingers of summer, I know the season of suntans and sweet corn is nigh. My sandals tell me so. They beg to be pulled from the depths of my closet where they’ve gathered dust since late October—a Hippie-ish heap of worn and weathered leather that has been all but forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind. They long to taste sweet freedom, to feel the fresh air upon their hide and to soak up the sun like there’s no tomorrow. I don’t blame them. My toes have pined for much the same since the first snow. And now that the warmth has returned to the Northern Hemisphere, the vast majority of my sensible-and-sissified footwear is in effect history. It’s far too unadventurous for my taste anyway.

My friend, Kathy (a woman after my own heart), is equally smitten with her sandals. Tevas, I think. The ones dipped in kryptonite and steeped in wonderfulness. That said, unless measurable snow has fallen and happens to impede her path, she wears them year round—with woolen socks, of course, for those unbearably chilly mornings come January. For my spunky hairdresser, Deb, it’s the chance to go barefooted she truly relishes—whenever and wherever the mood strikes. Shoes, begone!

My kids, however, have a slightly different view on the subject. My oldest daughter has virtually lived in flip-flops forever, sampling all the lovely hues known to man. In fact, I struggle to recall a time when she didn’t own a pair—or a dozen—or when I didn’t feel compelled to tell her to pick the blasted things up and take care of them already. As for my youngest charges, it is their beloved Crocs that whisper to them unremittingly, demanding to be worn, beckoning from the recesses of our hall closet. Oddly enough, they’re not as impassioned about sandals or bare feet; although the flip-flop obsession has struck from time to time. And the prevailing weather is a non-issue in their imprudent little minds. Instead, the calendar is king.

“It’s spring, Mom! Now I can wear my Crocs!” Needless to say, my heathens have been schlepping around in the silly things ever since the lions of March roared in. Sans socks—gasp! Thus far, however, I have won the battle over wearing them to school. But I’m losing the war, which bears an uncanny resemblance to last spring’s Croc-related debate. Arrrrrg.

“Come on, Mom; it’s really HOT during recess. So-and-so’s mom lets her wear Crocs to school and nothing bad ever happened to her feet,” my charges allege, attempting to shame me into allowing that which will make me crazy with worry for the entire school day. (That, coupled with the completely unfounded fear that they will be trampled to death by a herd of third-graders en route to the cafeteria, many of whom will be sporting Crocs).

Naturally, I fight the urge to employ scare tactics (doused with sarcasm) in response: “Go ahead and wear your stupid Crocs! But if you break your ankles, don’t come running to me!” Instead, I opt for something more like: “So-and-so doesn’t live here, does she?”

“No, but if she did, she wouldn’t like it.”

Enough said. I am the most horrible mother on the face of the earth. One who has the audacity to wear less-than-protective footwear in front of the children simply to torment them.

Eventually, I will cave. The mercury will continue to climb and my argument will fail. They will wear their moronic, slippity-dippity Crocs to school and I will be forced to overcome the apprehension I feel over the fate of their feet. Woe is me.

Thankfully I can slip into my comfy sandals—a happy hypocrite—and forget about the whole ordeal.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (in sandals much of the time).

Copyright 2009 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Spring Fling